Success on the Web starts by using the most effective business strategies, while minimizing those that are ineffective and money-wasting. Here are 15 common online marketing mistakes of small business entrepreneurs that you need to avoid:
1. “If you build it, they will come” mentality.
Just because you created a website does not mean that money will start pouring in. Creating a website is just the first step: you need to work hard to build traffic, attract the right type of visitors, and convert those visitors into sales.
2. Not treating your website as a business.
If you want to earn on the Web, you need to start by treating your web operation as a business. You need to have a business model — a way where you can earn money. This means throwing away notions that you can just put whatever pleases you on your website. Now you need to start thinking what your customers want, and what you can do to make them come back again and again on your website.
3. Not going social.
If you are not using social media such as Twitter or Facebook, you may be losing the potential to interact, engage and attract customers. Millions of people are on Facebook, Twitter, Youtube and other social media sites, sharing and talking about their favorite products and services. Effectively using social media is not easy, but if done right, you can increase awareness of your business, improve your insights about what your market want, better understand your customers‘ perceptions, and possibly even increase your new business — for free.
4. Failing to track and measure performance.
Your time and dollars are precious: you need to know what works, and what do not. Make an informed decision about your marketing campaigns and the performance of your website by making sure that you track them.
5. Mistaking traffic for results.
Traffic is not just about the numbers: you need to find the people who are interested in what you have to offer. You can have millions of visitors but if they are not the type of people who are likely to be interested in the products you sell or content you offer, then that number is just useless. Your marketing may be attracting low quality traffic who are nothing but server hogs.
6. Putting all eggs in one basket.
The Web is a fast changing medium: what works today may not work tomorrow. It is important that you hedge your bets and diversify. If you’re a blog earning from advertising, think of other ways that you can monetize your content in case your main advertising source decides to kick you out of the program or closes shop. Diversification is extremely important on the Web.
7. Making it hard for customers to contact you.
One of the worst things that you can do on the Internet is to be unresponsive and unavailable to customers who are trying to contact you. Make sure that your contact form is visible on your website. Then try to respond to emails and inquires from visitors as soon as you can.
8. Not making the effort to learn.
You have to keep pace with changes on the Web if you want to survive. For example, what Google may let slide now can penalize you later. Or there may be emerging technologies or marketing platforms that you can leverage for your business. Visit forums, follow thought leaders on Twitter, and read industry magazines. If you’re an ecommerce site, for example, subscribe to Internet Retailer. The day you stop learning is the day your business stops growing.
9. Not responding to inquiries and emails from customers.
One of the pet peeves of online users is when they don’t receive any response from websites they’ve contacted. Customers are looking for businesses that will treat them as an important; and as such, willing to take the time to answer their questions or concerns.
10. Not having a professional website.
Your website is the face of your business. Make your website look, read and feel professional. Spell check your content. Routinely visit your pages to see if there are pages that are missing, links not working. It is important that your website projects a trustworthy image.
11. Creating a website that is not user friendly.
Make it easy for users to find what they need. Don’t assume that just because you know where things are located that your visitors will find it easily. Make your navigation straightforward and easy for users to understand.
12. Not knowing when to ask for help.
Running a successful online business take a lot of work and effort. From writing content to fulfilling orders to marketing the website. The tasks can be sometimes overwhelming and requires various skill sets that you may not have. Know when you need help and consider tapping others so that you can focus on what you do best.
13. Not checking your competition.
Your competition can offer you tons of learnings. Do not ignore your competitors. Instead, look and study how they are doing things — e.g. how they are using the social media, what marketing mediums they use, how they present their products and contents, and how they provide customer service. Then try to do better and improve on what they do.
14. Leaving everything to your vendors, including web designer.
Just because you don’t know anything about web designing or search engine optimization will you leave everything to your vendor. Understand what you are paying for with the vendor – you might be giving ownership and control of your website to your vendor without you knowing it. You may be putting your business at risk in blindly trusting your vendors. Read the fine print of your contracts and know the implications of the agreement.
15. Taking the short cut to success.
In your desire to get to the top of the search engines, for example, you may be willing to cross the dark side and buy links from places the search engines frown upon. Especially when it comes to search engines, taking short cuts today can penalize you down the road — and the last thing you want for your business is to incur the wrath of the search engines.